If you're like us, at least once a day, a song plays on your iPod shuffle and you say to yourself, "Man, that one should have been a hit."
Indeed, it's an unjust world. Countless offensively annoying songs inexplicably achieve mass popularity all the time, yet so many beautiful and intricate tunes remain in obscurity. Makes you wonder about what could have been—if only that song had an extra push behind it, a record label with a larger advertising budget, or even some savvy product placement in a Honda commercial, then maybe it would have been a smash.
But there's hope, especially for aspiring musical theater songwriters. They have a very good friend in the the Fred Ebb Foundation, whose annual Feb Ebb Award recognizes the artistic merit of a musical theater songwriter or songwriting team that has yet to achieve significant commercial success. This year's joint winners, Stacey Luftig and Phillip Palmer, will split a cash prize of $50,000 and bask in the glow of a one-night-only showcase of their work.
The foundation is funded by royalties from American musical theatre lyricist Fred Ebb's vast catalogue of work, which includes the legendary musicals Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and the classic tune "New York, New York."
In addition to the Fred Ebb award, which is presented in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company, the foundation is a consistent and generous donor to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the nation's leading industry based HIV/AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization. In 2015, the foundation donated $1.65 million dollars to the organization, bringing its total contribution to BC/EFA to $11.65 million since its inception 11 years ago. (Ebb requested that, at the end of each year, royalties earned on his collection of works be distributed to BC/EFA through the foundation.)
As for the Fred Ebb Award, any aspiring artist, songwriter, or writer out there can appreciate a foundation that understands that sometimes great art needs a subtle, gentle push. Or, as Ebb himself mused in his classic song "A Quiet Thing," "happiness comes in on tiptoe."